Instructables
This is an LED based Aquarium Light. It consists of a sheet of plexiglass with holes drilled in it to accommodate LEDs facing downward into the tank. The circuitry is above the plexi and will be waterproofed with silicone/hot glue later on.  The power supply can be any transformer that you have kicking around. I used a 9.0VDC 800mA clock radio transformer.
The idea of this is to:
1) Reduce the cost of lighting your aquarium
2) Lower the heat generated by lighting

I am in no way responsible if anything goes wrong, and as with any electronics, there is a certain amount of risk involved.

I would not recommend using this on a planted tank because LED's do not have the proper spectrum. 

 
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Step 1: Planning and Design

First off, you must decide how many LEDs you are going to install, and how to install them. I decided to use a 18x3 grid of LEDs. For my 10g tank (20" long), I chose to start the LEDs 1" in from each end of the tank and a 1" space between LEDs. Your design will most likely vary. You also must consider the fact that resistors are needed when working with LEDs. I had this site recommended to me and I found it to be VERY useful. You must know what voltage and current your transformer will put out. You also must have your LEDs chosen and know the voltage and current required by them.
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robchang8 months ago

Hi, thank you for this instructable! It looks like a great project. I am deciding on building something like this vs. high power LEDs but I've heard that these 5mm LEDs don't last as long. I was wondering if you could tell me if your setup is still up and running? Thanks!

Willard2.0 (author)  robchang8 months ago
It was running for about a year. I then changed around my tanks and took it down. When I plugged it in later, there were 2 sets of LED's failed. I did rebuild lighting for a 4' tank with 1w LED's and they were much better. Go with the 1W or 3W LED's, they are all around a better diode.
Thank you for taking the time to make this..definitely planning on building one like this. :)
ginger200372 years ago
I may be replacing the light set up on my marineland eclipse hood, it looks like you're getting more light then what I get with two T5s! Very nice instructable!
Arbitror2 years ago
If you get the proper full spectrum LEDs you can use this for planted setups.
budman953 years ago
new to building with leds what will happen if you use a transformer from alarm clock and don't use resistors?
i may sound dumb, but what is a transformer, its purpose, and what kind of transformer are you using?
A transformer is an electrical component that has two sides (a primary and a secondary). It is used to step a voltage up or down according to the need. His transformer takes the 120 volts AC (alternating current) from the outlet into the primary side and steps it down to 9 volts on the secondary while also converting it to DC (direct current) by additional methods.
RGalliath3 years ago
You do realize that it would have been much simpler to use one or only several resistors instead of 30.
i know that black chord is the power supply...is it plugged directly into the wall outlet? i want to replicate this same concept for my fish tank/turtle aquarium and powering the LED lights is the only part of the project that i am uncertain of.
Willard2.0 (author)  phillipwheatley3 years ago
A transformer is a device that converts 120V household AC current into usable low voltage DC current. They're usually used to charge electronics.

So basically the transformer plugs into the wall outlet and provides DC current to power the LED's.  I used one from a clock radio that outputs 9V, but you can use any one that is between ~6-12V.  Just adjust the resistor values for that voltage.
jeffeb33 years ago
Great project. I think I will try this at home. Do you think the lighting would benefit from a more diffuse light? I've used thin white plastic before to make LEDs have a more spread out light source. If you had the ability to dim the LEDs, do you think you would? i.e. an adjustable timer (555 timer) would allow you to adjust the duty cycle with a trim pot, or I suppose you could dim them with an additional power consuming pot, but that might not be as efficient. I just wonder if I would ever think they were too bright...
Willard2.0 (author)  jeffeb33 years ago
As the fixture is, the light is pretty evenly diffused, but using something to make the light more even is a good idea.
I don't think you would want to dim the LED's.  If you ever wanted to, however, the 555 is the best way to go.  Just connect the 555 output to a transistor that can handle the load of the entire array.  You don't want to use a current limiting pot, they just burn up.
Another thought is to put some a row of Blue lights in the fixture as well to simulate moon light. You would just have to use a three way switch.
ratcrib3 years ago
good instructable! one suggestion - don't use hotglue for this type of stuff - it's not a long term solution...after a year or so in close contact with water it will lose it's bonds and may peel off surfaces. Consider using epoxy or silicone.
oddysea6824 years ago
 Where can I find LED lights in utah like a shop that sells them, mostly around salt lake city
The internet has a lot of choice. The best electronic shop I've used is mouser. Lots of specs, and lots of choice.
Willard2.0 (author)  oddysea6824 years ago
Radio shack probably sells them, but you will pay a lot for them.

Your best bet is to check the yellowpages for electronics shops, specifically stores that sell electronic components.  Just start calling around and ask if they carry individual LED diodes in the colour you want, and if so how much would it be for the number you need.
pyroarchist3 years ago
can you get the same effect by hot gluing a bunch of throwies into the plexi?
Willard2.0 (author)  pyroarchist3 years ago
You could, but if you're using this to light a tank, you want consistent lighting for years and batteries just won't last that long.
What is the MCD on your LEDs, mine are kind of dim, lol
Willard2.0 (author)  joshiers86053 years ago
I think they were rated at 12000.
ok :), thanks a lot, very helpful, great tutorial also
Ok, I have a very large fishroom. 50 tanks as of right now and 30 in storage, when i plan on moving i want to use all of them. I've been researching into doing these for all of them with a combination of blue and white leds to make an actinic bulb effect, but im also thinking of making a back section for moonlights on the breeding tanks. What im getting at is, obviously the cost of running flourescents vs these is worth it, but being in a large humid fish room, where the lights run 10 hours a day on a timer, would the bulbs burn out? or even with hotglue protection will the wires corrode faster?
Willard2.0 (author)  ShadowTheClown3 years ago
I don't think the LED's would burn out. Most LED's are rated for around 50-75,000 hours, so at 10hrs a day, that would be at least 13 years before they start to die.

As for the corrosion, I've been thinking and I believe the best way to prevent corrosion would be to encase the top in a plastic cover. Even just part of a garbage bag ballooned over the top and sealed around the edges would probably work.
If you want to be sure, just put some rice inside the cover before you seal it up. Rice acts just like those silica gel packets to dry out electronics when you buy them.
theledguy3 years ago
Awesome project! I used your method to build a fixture for my 20gal tall, and it looks fantastic. Not only does this conserve energy (my 3X33 panel only consumes 7 watts, and puts out more light than the old 15W T8 fluorescent), but colors look so much more vibrant than with either incandescent or fluorescent. Anyone with an aquarium should look into building one of these
rooster8d4 years ago
You did a real good job on this.  I have done some LED work and I like your setup. 
Willard2.0 (author)  rooster8d4 years ago
Thanks
Mike__4 years ago
How thick is the plexi that you used? It looks to be 1/4" ?
Did you find that the plexi sagged in the middle and is that the reason why the tank has is drained a bit from the top?

Willard2.0 (author)  Mike__4 years ago
I did use 1/4" plexi and no it did not sag at all.  The water was slightly lowered to let the snail breeder float without hitting the rim or plexi.